Safely Removing Lead Paint

Lead Poisoning
Posted at 5:45 AM, Oct 27, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:56:38-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- This is Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and we're marking it with this homeowner alert for anyone with a house built before 1978.

If you are planning to paint, renovate or strip any wood within it, you first need to get it tested for lead. What to do if the test is positive is this week's Angie's List report.

"More than 40 million houses in the United States have lead paint. And it's really important if you have small children to be very careful when you're remodeling because you do not want to end up with lead paint poisoning," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Ingesting lead paint chips or breathing in lead dust can lead to lifelong learning disabilities, nervous system problems, or even brain damage. Just a little dust can do a lot of damage.

"If you took this much lead dust and you spread it over a 1,500 square-foot home, that house would be contaminated, said Greg Sauer, a lead-certified program instructor.

To remove it, find a contractor who is certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in safe lead practices and ask specific questions on the removal process.

"A good contractor will list all of the things that they do because they're proud of the fact that it's part of their business," said Sauer.

Sauer says it's imperative your painter or re-modeler uses plastic drop cloths, not canvas, and a HEPA vacuum for clean-up. And while the paint may be the main culprit, it's not the only one.

"We think of lead-based paint as the colors on the walls, but that's not true. It's also in the lacquers, the varnishes, the shellacs, um, the floor coverings. Those all have lead in 'em as well," said Sauer.

It's illegal for any contractor to disturb lead paint without first acquiring lead-safe certification.  You can find a national list of certified contractors on the agency's web site at

Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.